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County budget totals $60 million

GRANDVIEW - With few changes since the preliminary budget approved last month, Yakima County Commissioners presented a 2006 budget proposal during a hearing in Grandview on Wednesday night.

Attendance was sparse for the hearing, but not comments from commissioners who cited more than $2.5 million in payments due for the new yet-to-be-occupied jail.

Opening the jail might have been politically expedient, but would not have been wise fiscally, said Commissioner Mike Leita.

"There just wasn't the numbers to justify it," Leita said of declining revenues from jail bed rentals.

An across the board 4 percent cut has been issued for all county departments to help make ends meet in the $60 million budget for 2006. In addition, commissioners reached into the county's reserves to balance the budget.

Layoffs or hiring freezes are likely in several departments, including planning, which is taking a hit of more than $100,000 for 2006.

That, in turn, may result in longer waits on the phone or possibly a longer time frame for zoning and growth management research, noted Commissioner Jesse Palacios.

Commissioners met this morning, Thursday, for one final hearing before the scheduled adoption of the 2006 budget.

"This is a story that will continue into 2007," said Leita. "We need to get revenue from the new jail next year or we'll have to make more cuts or find other revenue."

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